Obese women more likely to have premature babies
The risk of delivering a premature baby rises significantly if the mother is overweight or obese, according to new research from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The study found that the higher the BMI of the mother, the greater the risk of premature birth, which is when a baby is born with fewer than 37 weeks of gestation.
The researchers analyzed 1.59 million births between 1992 and 2010, where the BMI of the mothers, pregnancy complications or health risks after birth were tracked. While this study looked exclusively at children born in Sweden, the preterm delivery rate in the U.S. is more than double Sweden's, and rates of overweight and obese mothers is also higher in the U.S.
The Swedish scientists reported that obese women are more likely to experience inflammation, caused by high levels of inflammatory proteins called cytokines. And this increases the risk of urinary tract and vaginal infections, which can raise the risk of preterm birth.
The researchers concluded that obese women who are pregnant could prevent health complications for their child by losing some weight. Premature birth is one of the main causes of neonatal illness and infant mortality.